Bible, Romans #17

Chapter twelve continues with making sure we live soberly, and also that we view ourselves soberly (v3). So many of us worry about what others may think of us. We get so concerned that it can start to rule our lives. When this happens, we give others power over our lives. We can easily be thrown into an emotional roller-coaster ride every minute of the day. We come across one person who affirms us and we are fine, then one person comes across and expresses disapproval and we are crushed. We look for security in whether people like us rather than if God likes us.
The problem is that a single person may like us one minute and disapprove the next. Add a world of people like that and we quickly discover that our emotional security is not so secure. Whereas we know that God created us knowing every evil act we would commit our entire lives. Moreover, He keeps us in being every moment of our lives. This is the consistency of God. Though we may not please Him every moment of our lives, He does not take us out of existence. Hence, “Love endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Once we find our true security and value in God, and not the world, it is then that we become the people we want to be. Until then, faith will do little. If you think about it, it defines faith.
Verses nine through twenty-one give good spiritual direction for anyone. What defines this advice is how it starts, “Your love must be sincere” (v9). That is why we would “detest what is evil” (v9). Do we detest what is evil? Or rather, do we detest what the Church teaches as evil? The latter has been truer than ever. Do we detest the Church’s teaching on abortion, marriage, contraception and tithing? Can we truly say we detest what is evil and love what is good? Tough question for all of us, even priests.
Paul also suggests blessing your enemies. He kind of sounds like Jesus. We must also live honorably and humbly. He is hinting at a balanced life. This is all to lead us to the classic understanding of virtue. He sums up his advice in the fruitfulness of his suggestions, “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good” (v21). Vice and virtue are at war with each other. To the worldly, is seems that vice is winning. But to the truly wise, virtue always wins, because winning is stamped into its very being. Virtue is always associated with God, our just judge in the end. If we remain faithful to virtue and our Lord Jesus, we win. The world may not see the victory of virtue, at least not till it is too late and their judgement has come to pass. So much for security in what the world has to offer.
Paul continues his thought with those who have authority in this world. This authority is real and honored by God. Without such authority, for good or evil, there can be no society nor the structures that society offers for the good of the people. Cohesion of a society is a good thing. We must be obedient and support the society we live in. This is where patriotism is considered to be virtuous. Love for your country promotes love for your neighbor. Even when the neighbor has been a dirty rat, or when we have been the dirty rat, patriotism brings a common bond in a given society. We always pay our taxes and give honor to those who hold positions of service for the society. We respect them because they are a holy and sacred temple of God and we honor them for the office they hold. We also honor the flag that represents our country. The flag does not represent the problems of our society. It represents all that is good. That is why we stand when an official enters the room, like the president, governor, priest, bishop or when we say the pledge before the flag. Even when we disagree, to see an official as evil, the office is not evil, nor the ideals we honor. It raises our minds to a higher standard and should inspire us to that higher standard that may be lacking. So the lack of goodness in any person or people does not permit us to disrespect them. By doing so, we lower the standards ourselves, and society loses the grace and the inspiration of the higher standards that give that higher purpose. Might I refer to the higher purpose that brings us to the security we all seek?